Because I care only about how the record sounds and don’t care about what it looks like, I’ve devised my own grading scale that focuses solely on how the record sounds. If the record is unlistenable, either because of a skip or just too much damn surface noise, it’s not graded and I don’t bother listing it. So basically, all records I list are listenable and enjoyable to any fan of the music. My VG grading is equal to many people’s VG+.
S is a record that is still sealed.
NM is a record that sounds pristine. It basically means there’s no surface noise during quiet passages of music and only very little surface noise in between tracks. It’s a record basically free of “vinyl artifacts” such as noise, static, pops, clicks, etc…
VG+ is a record that may have surface noise that is generally only audible during quiet passages of music, but is otherwise unnoticeable. The record may contain an occasional pop or tick.
VG is a record that may have surface noise throughout the album, but never overwhelms the music except briefly in between tracks and during quiet passages of music. The record may also contain longer moments of loud surface noise or popping. Regardless, records with this grade are still extremely listenable.
Use the following as a buyer’s guide:
VG – An adequate listening copy. Purchase a VG copy as an inexpensive temporary option for favorite records or as a fine copy for music you occasionally listen to.
VG+ – A nice listening copy that will serve you for years until you find… THE ONE COPY.
NM – THE ONE COPY. This is among the finest examples of the record you will likely find.